Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered his ministers to do “everything in their power” to secure the release of two Britons captured by Russian forces fighting in Ukraine and sentenced to death.
Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner were arrested in Mariupol in April during an intense battle for control of the port city and accused of being mercenaries.
Both were found guilty of “mercenary activities and carrying out actions aimed at seizing power and subverting the constitutional order of the Donetsk People’s Republic” but their families argue that they are legally fighting as part of the Ukrainian military and should instead be treated like prisoners of war. .
Government minister Robin Walker condemned the procedure as “an illegal court in a sham government”.
Mr Johnson was said to be “appalled” by sentences assigned to them and ordered ministers to do “everything in their power” to secure their release.
A No 10 spokesman said: “He has been following the case closely and has asked ministers to do everything in their power to try to reunite them with their families as soon as possible.”
The call to rally from the Prime Minister comes as Diana Okovyta, Mr Aslin’s fiancée, arrives in London to try to campaign for his release.
And in an emotional post on social media, she assured her partner that he was not “abandoned”.
She said: “How I wish you knew you are not forgotten, you are not alone, you are not abandoned and will not be abandoned.
“I hope that anyway, deep down in your soul, you know and feel it. I believe it won’t be long before we see a picture of you smiling in the newspapers.”
The UK has not announced any plans to talk to Russian officials.